When life hands you an experience that is difficult to release or let go due to its enormity or pain, it affects you on all levels. What stays behind is the imprint of the image, chemical response and physical memory dedicated to the experience unless you release it. Whether this material is stored at the conscious or unconscious level, it impacts how you respond to life in the present.
This gets played out in your mental, emotional, physical and spirit body.
1) Mental Level:The Reptilian Brain, the part of your brain whose purpose is to help you survive, works by looking for events, features, and images that remind it of earlier events where you experienced significant stress. Filtering current situations, relationships and events through either a fight or flight can trigger a “watch dog “ response of the survival brain. You can feel like you are stuck on a treadmill and/or have repetitive negative thoughts.
You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the
present. ~ Jan Glidewell
2) Emotional Level: Many times, harbored emotions make it difficult to move on or through an experience. The electro-chemical well-traveled neural pathways of emotion become engrained attitudes, beliefs and habits. Where you have felt belittled, wronged, or judged there might be a resonance with guilt, anger, a feeling of coldness or lack of forgiveness. These emotions are actually signals to alert you to opportunities for freeing up compressed energy. In truth, it is not the event or the person which is causing you pain, but your resonance with the unresolved issues that creates the continuing disruption of energy.
3) Physical Level:The Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous System can also get stuck in a mode when
reminded of an unresolved stress which affects your ability to move or relax. All of the organs are affected by stress and the quality of interaction of the body’s systems and communication rely on quality of energy flow. Large Intestine works with letting go of that which no longer serves your life. Not letting go creates more burden on your physical system and impacts your health.
Not letting go or forgiving is like this quote from Traveling Mercies by Annie La Mott: “In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” The benefits of letting go include creating better communication between the cells and systems of your body, creating new insights, responses and choices for your life experiences. So how do you let go of issues that have placed your emotions or thoughts on a merry-go-round or stopped you from moving forward in your life?
4) Spirit Level: Forgiveness creates an opening, allowing you to reclaim more coherent life energy for your life and positive intentions. It allows the core essence of who you are to have the opportunity to take action, and to open to the lessons and the teachings from the earlier experience. It supports you in a new positive orientation and direction in your life. Within each of us is a perpetrator and victim. Forgiveness can also mean giving back the responsibility and dignity to another to own their action. Instead of carrying it yourself, you can release the burden. Resonating with being a victim limits choice range and expansiveness of life opportunity. Resonating with perpetrator leads to internal destructive messages and separation from nurture of life. Balancing the relationship between both allows for a gentle opening and new possibilities.
A wonderful book written by Richard R. Gayton, PhD, The Forgiving Place, speaks to choosing peace after a violent trauma. His book details the steps involved in going through the process of not only forgiving others, but self.
Here is a beautiful poem from his book entitled, “Forgiving Self”
Be still now. Rest in me. Lay your head softly on my hand. Sleep in my hand of the one who is love. Come to me now; wait no longer. Search for me no where else. For love is here, waiting close by, just one thought away. It’s easy-there is no strain. To be at peace means only for a moment to open your mind. Just for a moment let the thought of me enter into that tiny space you made, and I will come bearing a present. Open your hands, look what I brought you. My free gift, a pearl of such great loveliness that all fear and sorrow is blinded and momentarily silent. To pause a moment is all that is asked of you to receive the pearl of peace. Could you not pay this small sum for such a beautiful and priceless gift? The pearl is yours. You cannot throw it away. It has always been in your hand, but your hand has just now opened.The prize was hidden; but now it is found.
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The Forgiving Place: Choosing Peace After Violent Trauma
As you open to experiencing the pearl of peace within ourselves, you might wish to use a process by Jack Kornfield. Among the following meditations is a powerful process for Forgiveness: http://www.oprah.com/media/20080731_orig_Kornfield_MeditationForgiveness
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